Information Age

The evolution of the MBA: professional advancement in the Information Age

By Rahul Sampat

When we discuss the MBA, the first things that come to mind are its practical applications and benefits in today’s modern, technology-filled global business world. But did you know the Master of Business Administration, or MBA, has been around for well over 100 years? Let’s take a look at how it all began and where it can take you.

The history of the MBA

In the early 1900s, companies were looking for a scientific approach to management. To meet this need the Harvard Business School established the first MBA program in 1098. Eighty students enrolled in the first year, taught by 15 faculty members.

According to the Economist, the MBA then “developed from the accounting and book-keeping courses introduced as the country lost its frontier image and began to industrialize.”

At the time, the concept of a formalized business program wasn’t looked upon as being on the same level as earning an advanced degree in disciplines like law and medicine. But over the years, the appeal of learning about the science of management spread and the number of MBA students at Harvard steadily increased:

  • 1908: 80 students
  • 1920: 300
  • 1930: 1,070

As the Machine Age, the Age of Oil, and the Jet Age became significant time periods in modern history, these transformational industries required managers who knew how to run a thriving, fast-paced business.

The MBA begins to evolve

But Harvard wasn’t the only school that would begin to cater to new economic demands. In the decades to come, the popularity of the formalized MBA continued to expand, as many schools soon began offering MBA degrees. The original approach to the MBA program, based on Frederick Winslow Taylor’s Principles of Scientific Management, became a springboard that other universities used to launch a variety of modern-day, specialized MBA programs focusing on specific business areas.

In 1955, the UC Berkeley MBA is born

In 1898, just a few years before the first MBA was awarded on the East Coast, the Haas School of Business was established as the College of Commerce of the University of California. In 1955, the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Administration officially opened and joined the cohort of America universities that awarded MBAs to students who completed a specific study path.

One year later, in 1956, UC Berkeley launched executive MBA education programs to help developing leaders reach their full potential and produce tangible results when leading companies in every industry.

Fast forward to the present. On a global scale, the human race is experiencing the Information Age -- also called the Computer Age, Digital Age, or New Media Age -- and it’s changing every aspect of life, from business to healthcare, to the way we socialize with our family, friends, and colleagues. We’re part of an economy based on information technology that’s powered by a global workforce. To continue to thrive and innovate, small and large companies need strong, well-trained, entrepreneurial leaders and visionaries at the helm to not only survive the pace of innovation but truly thrive and scale.

What UC Berkeley offers students in 2019 and beyond

If innovation excites you, you’ll have access to all kinds of fundamental and specialized courses -- particularly in the information technology space -- that prepare you for both traditional and non-traditional jobs after graduating. Courses are designed to help you develop as a leader who is capable of turning innovation into impact.

Learn about Data and Decisions, Operations, Macroeconomics in the Global Economy, the Fundamentals of Design Thinking, and a plethora of hands-on courses. Experience and benefit from modern programs like the Institute for Business Innovation, which “disseminates pioneering research on innovation, trains students to be inventive and entrepreneurial leaders, and facilitates innovation in both the startup and corporate domains.”

The Berkeley Haas School of Business offers MBA courses in the following areas:

Furthermore, the UC Berkeley MBA program offers an average of 65 electives each semester (50% of which incorporate hands-on projects), and 12 required courses. Learn more about our rigorous and interdisciplinary MBA curriculum.

A UC Berkeley MBA can advance your career in almost any industry

The courses you take and hands-on experience you gain through enrolling in the UC Berkeley MBA program equip you with a very valuable and marketable set of skills you can use across a variety of industries.

For example, nearly one-third of the 2108 graduates went to work in the tech sector, one-quarter were hired by consulting firms. Their classmates pursued positions in finance (14%), CPG/retail (8%), and the nonprofit and healthcare sectors (both 4%).

The top employers of Haas graduates range from the Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey to Google and Amazon, Deloitte and Tesla. And, 14% go to work in start-ups.

Why it’s important to get an MBA now

Knowing the history of the MBA helps potential MBA candidates understand the exciting evolution this graduate degree has undergone. As the pace of human and technological development continues to accelerate during the Information Age, the UC Berkeley MBA specifically -- nestled next door to buzzing Silicon Valley -- keeps evolving. We rise to meet the challenge of training the world’s best leaders. Through specialized training focused on innovation, entrepreneurship, and experiential learning, the Berkeley MBA is empowering professionals to run and support thriving businesses that have a global impact.

Want to be prepared to create your own opportunities in the Digital Age? Explore how top-ranked UC Berkeley MBA programs can give you the tools to make it happen.

Compare Berkeley MBA programs

Posted on August 22, 2019
Themes: MBA Benefits
Rahul Sampat
Rahul was Director of Admissions for the Berkeley MBA Programs for Working Professionals from 2015-2019. He hopes these blog posts provide you with useful insights into the Berkeley MBA experience and questions you may have about the MBA in general.